Two types of models arose out of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian deserts. Hermetic ( cloister) and monastic (community).
Anthony of Egypt a hermit, is a prime example of the cloister style. He helped and encouraged others who came out into the desert, yet never organized a monastery.
They would live as hermits in separate locations yet gather together for prayer, work and encouragement. There was no hard and fast rule. Each person was encouraged to developed their own. Simplicity, labor, hospitality and contemplation centered in a life of loving God and others were the guiding values. This was the Hermetic or costlier model.
At the same time groups of people began living together in the same place to pursue the ascetic life. These communities were centered around common prayer, common meals and common labor. Initially as in the hermetic model each person was encouraged to develop a rule. Eventually each community established a common rule ( guiding set of principles) to be adhered to by all participants. This became the monastic or community model.
In both models rhythm and charity were key components.
see monasticism part 1
Photo: Excavated monastic cells at the desert settlement of Pherme, Western Nile Delta, Egypt